Back To School: More To It Than Meets The Eye

Posted by Susan Ofstein

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Summer is ending, and school is back in session. Cue the advertisements of back-to-school sales on supplies and clothes, “Meet the Teacher” nights, and those timeless first day of school pictures. As many children and families are filling their new backpacks with loads of supplies for their first day, many families do not have the means to even send their children to school with new pencils.

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Topics: School Safety

Alternative Ways to Prevent School Shootings

Posted by Surabhi Rao

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The unique, sensitive toll that has befallen the country urgently begs us to come up with non-traditional ways to address youth violence. Current methods of treatment are clearly not enough—we need to find new ways to prevent school shootings, which starts with addressing the behaviors and risk factors that influence youth violence. 

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Topics: School Safety

Mental Health Treatment Helps Stop School Shootings

Posted by Susan Ofstein

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Communities are looking for answers to stop school shootings: 
MST's mental health treatment can play a vital role

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 was like any other Wednesday for me. I was wrapping up my meetings for the day until I received an urgent text from my husband, asking if I had seen the news about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL—our oldest nephew’s school. He told me that our nephew, Blake, was okay and his dad was on his way to get him. I was thankful for that moment, but then the news began to come in about the other victims of this senseless act of violence. We called to check on our family, who is very involved in the Parkland community, and everyone was in shock. Blake spoke with my husband and told him that his football coach had passed away, but said “It’s okay, he died a hero.” His words stunned both of us. The following week, he attended the funerals of his four friends who were killed and his beloved hero, Assistant Coach Aaron Feis.

When watching the maturity and passion of Blake and his peers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I have hope for our future. I do also worry. 

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Topics: School Safety

Social Media: The New School-to-Prison Pipeline for Black Youth

Posted by Sed Lewis

The school-to-prison pipeline is gaining fuel based on inappropriate behavior on social media

The pipeline is the trend of funneling students from public schools into the criminal justice system. African-American youth have been the most impacted by the pipeline.

Even worse, the U.S. Department of Education has new research that shows the pipeline starts at pre-school for black students. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, black students represent 31 percent of school-related arrests. It started with the zero tolerance policies of the 1990s that saw students being criminalized for minor school infractions such as improper dress, disruption of a public school, obstruction, etc.

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Topics: School Safety

Multisystemic Therapy Can Help Slow the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Posted by Amreen Khan

A former school social worker and current MST supervisor reflects on harsh school discipline policies feeding the school-to-prison pipeline

“It is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunities of an education.” Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1954

I was a special-education school social worker and school social-work clinical supervisor in the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) schools. These are the “lowest performing” Detroit public schools and were taken over by a governor-appointed emergency manager in 2011. As a Multisystemic Therapy (MST) supervisor and former MST therapist, I have dealt with keeping youth in school.

While schools have complex challenges, one of the most frustrating aspects I observed was the detrimental discipline policies.

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Topics: School Safety

Unraveling Zero Tolerance Documentary

Posted by Sue Dee

Short documentary sheds light on shortcomings of a zero tolerance policy

You’ve seen the news headlines—fear and violence widespread in our schools. Some of you might have seen the movie, “Lean on Me ,” about the New Jersey school principal, Joe Clark, who took matters into his own hands to keep “those kids” out of his school. The response of “zero tolerance” made sense—or did it?

In only 12 minutes, you can learn a lot about how we got to where we are and how we might do something better for our youth.

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Topics: School Safety

A Differing Perspective on School Resource Officers

Posted by Nick Angers, CSI

An MST expert responds to the blog on SROs published Tuesday Feb., 7

My experiences with school resource officers (SROs) differ from the viral videos that make the media rounds. The SROs that I was fortunate to build relationships with as a Multisystemic Therapy (MST) therapist and supervisor produced a picture different from the image of officers arresting kids in school hallways or physically restraining them in their classrooms. Granted, it took some effort to establish rapport with the SROs.

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Topics: School Safety

What Does the Research Show about School Resource Officers?

Posted by Dr. Scott Henggeler

This commentary originally appeared as an op-ed in the Mount Desert Islander. 

Historically, research has repeatedly shown that juvenile justice interventions often result in outcomes that are the opposite of what was expected or intended. For example, most people would agree that youth who commit crimes need more structure and self-discipline in their lives. This perspective led to the proliferation of military style boot camps in the 1990s designed to reduce delinquent behavior. While this intervention would seem, at face value, to be harmless and well suited for teaching teens to be more responsible, subsequent evaluations showed strikingly different results. That is, boot camp interventions actually increased youth antisocial behavior problems and did so at considerable financial cost.  

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Topics: School Safety

New Missouri Statute Worrisome for School-to-Prison Pipeline

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Schoolyard fracases now felonies in Missouri

It’s about to get way worse in the Show Me State.

The first day of the New Year, the day that traditionally marks a bright new beginning, marked a dark new chapter in Missouri's history.

Imagine a school-yard scuffle, maybe a punch or two thrown, some rolling on the ground. 

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Topics: School Safety

Taking a Softer Approach to School Discipline

Posted by Diane Kooser

What kind of discipline is most effective in schools?

One of my favorite things about social media in August is seeing all the back-to-school photos from my friends and family. It seems like everyone is shopping, planning and gearing up for a successful school year. Amid all the shopping, I see memes about school discipline. Some clearly advocate for little to no tolerance of student misbehavior while others seek a softer approach.alternative_school_discipline.jpg

One of my favorite back-to-school pictures from this year

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Topics: School Safety